Gulson’s gong

September 23, 2016

Hockey player Jayden Gulson recently returned from a trip to Fiji with an Australian Country side.

The over-achiever has sent a strong message that he is on his way to the pinnacle of the sport after reaching yet another milestone moment in his already stellar career.

At only 19, the Echuca-Moama River Rats defender has been selected as captain for the under 21 Australian Country Squad and will get to lead the team out onto the field when it starts its international tour later this year.

The squad was announced at the medal presentation ceremony which concluded the 2016 Australian Country Championships in Darwin on Sunday, July 31.

Gulson competed for Victoria alongside fellow River Rats James Thomson and Chris Mathew, but unfortunately they didn’t get the results they were hoping for.

‘‘It was a really even tournament and the end result doesn’t show justice to how well we played,’’ he said.

The side finished six out of the seven states with a number of matches ending in a draw.

Players are nominated for the Australian squad ahead of the championships and then undergo a rigorous selection process during the week-long event.

‘‘Going into it I didn’t think I had a shot at captain at all,’’ Gulson said.

‘‘I played a pretty good tournament so I thought I had a possibility of making the side but I never could’ve guessed I’d get the position.’’

Gulson didn’t have a long wait to hear his name called as the under 21 side was first to be read out followed by the open.

‘‘It was a bit of a shock actually getting my name called out,’’ he said.

The tournament schedule is yet to be released for the Australian team, but they should be likely to receive this in the next couple of days.

Gulson doesn’t feel there is any added pressure given his new role, as everyone on the side is a leader in one way or another.

‘‘The coach will look back onto me in terms of the performance of the team. I’m really just there to help the coach out where I can.’’

Gulson said he was most looking forward to the standard of hockey he was likely to encounter when he heads overseas.

‘‘The level of hockey on the international stage is a massive leap from your local club. The quality of hockey that’s played all around the world is a good way to learn a few different things.’’

The team’s biggest rivalry will be against New Zealand as its strongest competition last year, and Gulson was confident his side could turn out another winning tour.

‘‘We have a similar team to last year so hopefully we can do it all again,’’ he said.

‘‘This year is a bit more important with the Oceania Pacific Cup adding to the number of teams we’ll play. To win it would be good, but just to go away and meet different people and play some good hockey is what I’m really looking forward to.’’

Gulson admits the travel involved with competing at such a high standard has certainly taken its toll over the years.

‘‘I guess I’ve grown up getting used to travelling around a bit, but it’s just something you have to do in order to reach that next level of playing,’’ he said.

‘‘My parents have always been there to help me a lot. They’re always with you supporting your goals along the way.’’

Despite his success, Gulson has always returned to his home club where his family is heavily involved both playing and coaching.

‘‘(The) River Rats are a very good club and it’s the social side of things that keeps me coming back,” he said.

He’s confident of his side being able to redeem last year’s grand final loss and take it all the way this year.

‘‘We’re so far undefeated this season, but we will have to wait and see what can happen come finals.’’

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